Tons of Tight Ends
Columbia's Andrew Kennedy was a hard-tackling lineman in high school
Here’s a rarity for college football: seven out of the eight Ivy teams bring back their 2009 starting tight end for the 2010 season.
The catch is that the absolute best tight end from 2009, Yale’s John Sheffield, is the one starter who did graduate and is gone.
So of the seven returning starters, who are the best tight ends?
That somewhat depends on what you’re looking for in a tight end, a receiver, a blocker, or the best combination of both?
Sheffield was the 1st Team All Ivy tight end, and Columbia’s Andrew Kennedy snagged 2nd Team honors.
At 6-foot-3, 234 pounds and blistering speed to boot, Kennedy is a nightmare to cover and it seems like most of Columbia’s opponents don’t even bother to try much of the time. He was often totally wide open, and most of his five TD’s were uncontested breakaways. He also averaged a hefty 15 yards per catch. All this combined makes Kennedy a clear choice as the best returning receiving tight end for 2010.
But don’t sleep on a couple of other tight ends who I think could put up big receiving numbers this fall. First you have Brown’s Alex Prestley, who at 6-6 and 250 pounds is a real load, and should become a big receiving target now that Brown’s top wide receivers from 2009 have graduated.
Next is Dartmouth’s John Gallagher who I was very impressed with last season as a receiver as he finished just a hair under 300 yards receiving for the year.
The best blocking tight ends are Penn’s Luke Nawrocki and Harvard’s Nicolai Schwarzkopf. Nawrocki had an outstanding season as a blocker in 2009 and he started to come on as a receiver at the end of the season. His overall stock would rise if the Quakers get some stability at the QB position after the injury-riddled 2009. But if Nawrocki just joins that veteran offensive line and concentrates on blocking, I don’t think any of his coaches will complain.
At 6-5 and 245 pounds, Schwarzkopf could be a complete package. But I’m convinced the Harvard coaches don’t want to use him very much as a receiver. That could change if Andrew Hatch takes over as the starting QB and he develops a real passing relationship with Schwarzkopf.
The other two returning starters at tight end are Princeton’s Harry Flaherty and Cornell’s Ryan Houska. Both are talented, but I think Houska is a bit undersized. Flaherty could surprise if new Head Coach Bob Surace shuffles the offense.
Here’s how I list the top returning Ivy tight ends:
1. Andrew Kennedy, Columbia
2. Luke Nawrocki, Penn
3. Alex Prestley, Brown
Zielinski in Trouble
I’m sorry to report that former Columbia defensive line standout Mark Zielinski is having a tough time keeping his job as head coach for the North Brunswick High School football team.
But most accounts the charges against Zielinski, who joined me for an excellent halftime interview in 2007, are baseless. But he’s still looking for the appropriate political backing to stay on the sidelines.
I know we’re all pulling for Coach Mark right now.